Buenos Aires - The All Blacks will hand Fijian-born winger Sevu Reece his Test debut
against Argentina in the Rugby Championship this weekend as part of an
experimental match-day squad that features five new faces.
Coach Steve Hansen was forced to ring the changes for Saturday's
match in Buenos Aires after deciding to rest eight players from the
Super Rugby-winning Crusaders and losing veteran Sonny Bill
Williams to injury.
Reece's fast-track into the All Blacks continued after a sensational
15-try Super Rugby season that followed a domestic violence incident
last year which almost derailed his career.
The 22-year-old is the only uncapped player to start the match but
Hansen named another four debutants on the bench - utility back Braydon
Ennor, flyhalf Josh Ioane, loose forward Luke Jacobson and prop Atu
"It's going to be exciting to watch how the new All Blacks perform
along with their more experienced teammates," Hansen said. "The team is a
mixture of experience and raw enthusiasm."
Williams failed to recover from a hamstring strain and Hansen said
winger Rieko Ioane missed out simply because he had already established
himself at the top level ahead of the World Cup.
"We already know that he's a very, very good test player," Hansen
said. "We need to find out about Sevu and some of those other selections
In William's absence, Ngani Laumape partners Anton Lienert-Brown in the centres.
Captain Kieran Read is among the Crusaders being rested, with flanker
Sam Cane handed the skipper's armband for only the third time in his
The pack has a makeshift look about it as several first-choice
Crusaders forwards are missing, prompting Hansen to give prop Angus
Ta'avao his second Test start.
New Zealand have never lost in 28 meetings with Argentina, although the South Americans managed a 21-21 draw in 1985.
But the All Blacks, who are chasing a third straight World Cup in
Japan this year, will be wary of a Pumas team dominated by in-form
Jaguares players who made the Super Rugby final.
Hansen said he expected to face an Argentina side that was brimming with self-belief and intent on claiming a prize scalp.
"We know that we'll be facing a confident, physical side," he said.
"Their players will have taken a lot of confidence and self-belief
from the Jaguares Super Rugby season... they will see this game as a
massive opportunity to make a statement."
15 Ben Smith, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Jordie
Barrett, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (captain),
6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Dane
Coles, 1 Ofa Tuungafasi
Substitutes: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Atu Moli, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jackson Hemopo, 20 Luke Jacobson, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Braydon Ennor